The Battle for the Senate
Democrats have written off any serious effort to retake the House of Representatives, which means that Obama's last two years in office will include no serious legislative victories. The key to exposing the disaster of his presidency involves recapturing the Senate -- and putting on Obama's desk popular bills, including reforms he and the left loathe, that he will be have to veto or sign into law.
Begin with South Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana. South Dakota, except for retiring Senator Johnson's Senate seat, is completely Republican at every level. West Virginia is solidly Republican in presidential elections and is rapidly becoming Republican in state government. Add Obama's hatred of coal and an exceptionally strong Republican candidate, and this open Senate seat flips Republican. Baucus in Montana, the last Democrat in the state's congressional delegation, leaves Democrats trying to defend a seat in a state that always goes Republican in presidential elections and has Republican control of the state legislature. This state should flip, too.
Three states in the South -- Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina -- have Democrat incumbents in very conservative states with both houses of their respective legislatures having steadily and rapidly moved toward the Republican Party. North Carolina in 2008 barely went for Obama, but otherwise these states since Clinton have been solidly Republican in presidential elections. The latest polls show the Democrat incumbency losing in each of these races.
Alaska provides the seventh state that should send a Republican to replace its Democrat incumbent. At every level -- presidential elections to state government -- the state is Republican. Begich won in a strong Democrat year through a thoroughly corrupt prosecutorial persecution of the incumbent Republican, Ted Stevens. Alaska, like West Virginia and Louisiana, also suffers from Obama's anti-energy policy. These seven seats will give Republicans fifty-two seats. Other states look likely to flip as well.
Michigan, somewhat surprisingly, looks like it may elect a Republican senator. Not only do polls today show Republicans winning Senator Levin's open seat, but Michigan is becoming Republican at the state level. Governor Snyder seems to be coasting to re-election, and Republican state legislative leaders are actually planning to expand right-to-work, already enacted in a state once controlled by Big Labor.
New Hampshire is the most conservative and most Republican state in the northeast (which isn't saying much). Polls show that Sheehan is vulnerable, and two Republicans -- Scott Brown and Bob Smith, both of whom have served in the Senate already -- provide a good shot at turning the seat Republican. New Hampshire has also had a pattern of jumping from one party to the other in successive elections. Senator Ayotte shows that not only can Republicans win, but even relatively conservative Republicans can win. Polls have fluctuated wildly in this race. It is certainly winnable.
Iowa, a perennial swing state in normal years, has a very winnable open senate race caused by Harkin's retirement. If there is a Republican trend, then a pickup seems probable, and, much like New Hampshire, Iowa tends to change directions with successive elections (another factor that ought to help Republicans).
States like Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Oregon, and Virginia offer potential gains in a Republican year, even though this would take some luck in each case. Only McConnell in Kentucky seems like a possible loss, though his opponent for the Republican nomination is polling ahead of Democrat candidates.
On balance, Republicans seem very likely to capture the Senate with a few extra votes -- and, in a good year, to build enough of a majority to comfortably provide a Republican president in 2017, with majorities in the Senate and the House.
While that hardly means the implementation of the sort of conservative revolution our nation needs, that revolution cannot take place without some political muscle in Washington.